MAY 2018 BAD FAITH CASES: NO BAD FAITH WHERE MERE DISAGREEMENT OVER CLAIM VALUATION; SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS RELEVANT TO COURT'S CONCLUSIONS (Middle District)

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The insured pedestrian sustained injuries after being struck by an automobile. The insured settled with the tortfeasor’s insurer. The insured claimed the injuries left her “permanently lame, sore, and disabled,” and filed a UIM claim with her insurer. The insurer denied the claim and argued that the total value of the insured’s injuries did not exceed $100,000.

Litigation ensued, and the insurer successfully moved for summary judgment on the bad faith claim. The Court stated that “[a]n insured must meet the heightened standard of clear and convincing evidence, which ‘is the highest standard of proof for civil claims’, to establish a claim of bad faith.” The Court found that the evidence of record revealed the insurer reasonably evaluated the claim, and reasonably concluded that the claim did not exceed $100,000.

The Court further observed that the insured continued to work at her job, obtained a new job as a nurse, and never requested any physical accommodations or limitations. Furthermore, the insured’s social media posts showed that she continued to live a very active lifestyle, and an IME report stated that she had recovered from her injuries and required no further care.

In conclusion, the record showed a mere disagreement as to the valuation of the claim. Such a disagreement cannot amount to bad faith under Pennsylvania law.

Date of Decision: May 11, 2018

Shaw v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co., United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania, Civil Action No. 17-947, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80101 (M.D. Pa. May 11, 2018) (Mannion, J.)

 

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